On the blog today is Elle Parker who has just published her first novel, Like Coffee and Doughnuts released by Lyrical Press. She has also written a short story – Waxing Jack in the TQ Toy Box – Candles which is reviewed on the blog here. This is Elle’s official profile on her blog -
- Elle Parker is a lover of smut in many forms. She writes erotic novels and short stories in several genres, most notably M/M romance. She is a member of the Erotic Authors Association, Erotica Readers & Writers Association, and Romance Writers United.
Hi Elle and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on the blog. Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself both as a writer and personally.
Thanks for having me here. I’m a big fan of your blog and this is a hell of an honor, I can’t tell you how excited I am.
Yes, I am a fairly new author on the scene, having just been published last December, but I’ve been around the ebook world as a reader for a few years now. I’m primarily an M/M writer, but I do have a mainstream novel I’ve been working at for a few years here and there, and I’ve recently outlined a paranormal romance.
Aside from the writing, I own a business with my husband, and spend my ‘day job’ hours doing the bookkeeping for that, as well as my fair share of the production work. It’s exciting times for us there. We’ve just hired a new production manager and we’re hoping he’s going to help streamline the work flow so we can concentrate on bringing in more business. (And I can get away with writing at work).
Home is out in the country in the wilds of Wisconsin, and I adore it there. We love it so much, we have plans to move even further out and build our own home in the next five to six years. We just bought a dumpy old camper we’re going to put out there and we have plans to spend a lot of our summer there. I have two teenagers who are, seriously, the coolest kids in the world. This was the stage of parenthood I was meant for, and I am having so much fun with them. We do a lot together as a family; play games, shoot pool, and head out to the cabin. I also like to do a lot of creative things, sewing and knitting, jewelry making. And my husband and I brew beer when we get the chance.
Can you tell us something fun about Elle that you haven’t revealed to many people?
I have a secret longing to have my own private apartment in the city. It would be clean and free of pet hair. I could use the couch and TV anytime I wanted to. I would put something down and it would still be there when I got back…and nothing else would be there. It would be quiet. Plus, it would be fun to spend some of my life within walking distance of the library, good restaurants, and interesting things to do. My sister shares this dream and we often sit around fantasizing about how nice it would be. We took a walk through Ikea once, stopping at all the furniture displays and saying, “This one. Just this. This is all I would need…”
How long have you been writing and is Waxing Jack your very first story published?
Waxing Jack is my first story published in the ebook world. Back in college, I wrote a few things that got published in teeny venues like the Minnesota Women’s Press. They were essays rather than fiction, but they sure gave me a taste for seeing my name in print.
I’ve been a writer since grade school when I first started getting some formal education in creative writing and fell in love with it. I dabbled around through school and college, and then ten years ago, I discovered online fandom and found a place where I felt I fit in. I’ve been writing erotic stories ever since. I spent all that time learning how to write, how to pace a story properly, and how to edit my work. I also learned how to take advice and criticism, which was important in getting me ready to deal with publishers and editors.
What do you like best about being a writer and what are the challenges? As a newly published author, is it as fun and exciting as you thought it would be?
Oh yes, I’m having a blast with this. It’s a lot of hard work, to be sure, but it’s all so much fun. The thing I like best is the actual writing. I love to create characters and worlds and build a story around them. Sometimes it’s excruciatingly frustrating, but when I get the snags worked out and really get moving…it’s a complete high. Working through the publishing process has been fun, too. I was lucky to be assigned a wonderful editor who is excellent at what she does and willing to work with me when issues come up. My experience so far has been very professional and I’m thankful for that.
Fans today seem to want to know a lot more about their favourite authors than in the past, especially with the advent of the Internet. How do you feel about this trend?
I think it has its pros and cons. For the most part I can understand readers wanting to find a connection with the people who create these worlds and these characters they love so much. It only gets to be a problem when people take it too far, or push for more than the author can comfortably reveal. I’m lucky – I have nothing to hide. Everyone I know who would care already knows what I write, and I have very little risk in being found out. But there are authors who stand to lose jobs or worse if they’re outed.
Most writers hate promotion because it takes them away from writing and also it’s an area with which they are unfamiliar. How do you feel about having to promote your books?
I don’t mind having to promote my books. In fact, there’s a great deal of it I enjoy. My publishers already have their hands full simply trying to run the publishing side of the business, if I’m not willing to promote my own books, why should I expect them to? It’s true that is does take up a lot of time, if you let it. I’m already starting to cut back in some areas because I’m not sure how much I’m getting out of them. I have a very hard time keeping up with the Yahoo groups, with one or two exceptions. I have a MySpace and a Facebook, but I don’t do much more than update those occasionally. Facebook mystifies me, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all these shoes and quizzes and weird stuff. I will always maintain them and post important info there for the benefit of those people who prefer that format, but I don’t really follow them.
I’m finding that I enjoy Twitter a lot. It’s quick and social, and I gain a lot of information from it. That seems to be more for author networking at this point, rather than actual promotion, and I’ll admit that as I get more followers, I’m finding it harder to keep up with what’s going on there. I try to find a balance, and I hope that no one ever feels ignored or slighted.
Mostly, I’m going to start focusing on my blog. I’m taking a class that required blogging for the month of May, and I ended up having a lot of fun with that. I can be so much more interactive with people there, and share all kinds of cool stuff I can’t do in other promotional venues. I have some great things planned. I’m going to be sharing a ton of material related to the book – soundtracks, notes, scenes that were pulled from the finished product. If you’re interested in reading the actual scene in which Dino tails Amy Ware, I’ll be putting that up at some point. At least, I hope people will find that cool – I adore getting extra tidbits related to books and movies that I love, and I hope others do too.
With the internet comes a lot of exposure – good and bad – and in a recent poll conducted on the blog 37% of readers said they would be more likely to try a new author based on how they communicated with them. However 46% of readers said that they stopped reading an author’s books because of rudeness or other unacceptable behaviour. Do you feel that the internet is causing more damage than good to writer’s sales? Why?
I don’t think the Internet has anything to do with it. It all depends on the author’s behavior. If an author wants to stomp around the internet acting like a prima donna and her sales suffer because of it, that’s not the internet hurting her sales. It’s possible the internet makes it a little easier for an author to be an ass to more people in one fell swoop, but the one instance I tell people about most is an author who was dick to me at a live book signing – and believe me, I tell everyone I get a chance to.
So far, all my dealings with people who’ve read the book have been marvelous and I hope I’ve been nothing but kind to them. I try to be very appreciative of people who take the time to read my work, because everyone’s time is at a premium and being picked out of the TBR pile is a huge honor.
What do you have coming up within the next 3 – 6 months?
Well, promotions wise, I’ll be host for the day at Beth Wylde’s Yahoo group on June 23, which is looking to be a good time. She’s doing things all month and into July, I think. Everyone should check that if they get the chance.
As far as projects go, I’m currently working on a few things. I have a short story I’m getting ready to submit for an anthology, and there’s a paranormal romance I’ve been outlining. But my biggest, and most enjoyable, project is the follow up I’m writing to Like Coffee and Doughnuts. Dino and Seth’s story isn’t over yet, and I’m finishing up the second book now. I would like to turn this into a series if it proves popular enough. I adore the characters and have all kinds of ideas for stories for them, so we’ll have to see if I can manage that. Personally, I’m a huge fan of series that center around the same characters and will happily read book after book if I love them enough.
I know you’re still getting your feet wet but what has been your biggest achievement, so far, as a writer?
Getting my novel published, definitely. Writing it, actually. This is the longest and most involved project I’ve ever written and it took me a lot of work and a lot of rethinking and rearranging to make it happen.
I did a couple of huge overhauls to this book. First, to take all the romance out, because I thought I might try to submit it to mainstream print publishers as a straight-up mystery, and then to put all the romance back in when I got stuck and realized the problem was trying to force the story to be something it wasn’t. I had lost all motivation to work on it, and it just wasn’t fun anymore. Then I went to a conference where someone talked about this theory that if you’re stuck in a story, you’ve told a lie somewhere. Find the lie and fix it, and the story will open up before you. My friends and I hashed it out and realized the lie was to pretend that Dino and Seth didn’t have this great chemistry. When I put the romance back in, it all flowed. That took some massive revisions, and actually accomplishing that was a huge achievement.
ELLE PARKER UNPLUGGED
This is the section of the interview where pretty well anything goes and it doesn’t have to do with writing.
Because I love to have fun I checked out Rick Reed’s interview with you. For those who did not have the opportunity to see it, here’s one question and answer that I really loved -
Rick: “Who do you think you are?“
Elle: “I think I am a beer drinkin’, smut writin’, early onset wizened crone, with a penchant for humor, vice, and colorful language. Give me a running start, and I sometimes achieve full goddesshood.”
So other than all of the above what other description of yourself can you come up with that would make us laugh?
Boy, I don’t know…that’s kind of it in a nutshell, right there. I mean, I’m really very severely lacking in store brand cool, I have no natural grace whatsoever, most of the time I look pretty plain. (I can glam it up for pics to a certain extent, but mostly you’ll find me in jeans and a ponytail). Which is not to say I’m a total goober. I can be a lot of fun to drink beer around a campfire with, you just wouldn’t know it by lookin’ at me.
What kind of guys turn you on and make you want to jump into bed with them without a second thought? (well, maybe a third thought) *g*
Apparently Italian ones, given my celebrity crush record. There are reasons I wrote Dino the way I did. I’m also partial to geeks with glasses, abrasive jerks, and crossdressers. I honestly tend to fall for personality more than looks most of the time, so I never can quite predict who I might be attracted to and who I wouldn’t.
A lot of writers say that their characters demand to be heard. Does that happen to you and if so, how does it work? Do you hear this voice in your head that says “I really like the other guy Elle, he has a bubble butt – can I have him instead of this ugly stiff you’re trying to have me make love to”?
My characters definitely take on a life of their own, but rather than talk directly to me, they simply won’t cooperate. I’ll be trying to write a scene and make Dino take chances and he’ll just insist on being practical. It gets very weird trying to get one place and all the lines that come to me are heading another. There’s a scene I wrote where they have a short fight in the garage that happened like that. I really wasn’t trying to write a fight at that moment – in fact, I didn’t want them fighting at all, I wanted them working on the case, but line after line kept popping into my head, and I couldn’t steer it back to the case until they’d had their say. Sometimes, though, that’s when I do my best writing. I’m very pleased with that scene, and it actually became the basis for the title of the book.
What kind of adult games do you like to play? :)
What is your most delicious treat in a funky kind of way?
That is one hell of an interestingly phrased question… Two things spring to mind: The tastiest funky treat I make is my Rum Balls, which are incredibly potent, but very good. (I feel like I can brag on them because I didn’t invent the recipe, I got it off the internet – I just have the good sense to tip plenty of extra rum into them). Now, if we’re talking a little more luxurious, a huge treat for me is to curl up in bed with some wine and movies. I get so crazy busy that I relish the times I can just sink into comfy pillows and escape into another world for a while. When I go all out, I have snacks, my laptop, and anything thing I need handy to simply wallow for as long as possible. (Damn. I’m typing this at the shop and now I desperately want to go home…)
Thank you Elle. :)
Thank you for having me! I enjoyed getting to spend a little time chatting about the book, and I’m looking forward to interacting more with readers as time goes on. Hopefully, soon I’ll have the second book to talk about. Thanks to all who took the time to read this, and if you read the book I hope you will enjoy that as well.
Elle was a really fun interview – anyone who can describe herself as “a beer drinkin’, smut writin’, early onset wizened crone” must be a lot of laughs. But … golf??? What kind of answer was that?
The safe one.:)
Elle Parker’s Contact Information